Ambulance service trials electric vehicles for first time
- Credit: PA
Electric emergency vehicles will be trialled in the east for the first time.
The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) has added three electric rapid response vehicles to its fleet in the the start of a two-year trial.
Two of the vehicles are Skoda Enyaq iV 80x vehicles which will be used as rapid response cars, attending urgent calls such as cardiac arrests.
The third vehicle is a Vauxhall Vivaro-E van which will be trialled in various roles, including as a falls response vehicle and as a mental health response vehicle.
The cars can do 0 to 60mph in around six seconds - half the time it takes a diesel rapid response car.
They can also be charged to 80% in around 30 minutes using the quickest charger.
Tom Abell, chief executive of the EEAST, said: "The east of England is a very diverse geographical area... We know that this technology works very well in urban areas and cities.
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"We need to look at how it will work in more rural communities, the charging infrastructure and the ways of working that we're going to need to put in place in order to be able to support this technology moving forward."
The trial is being funded by a £250,000 grant from NHS England, which will also help pay for the ambulance service to install chargers at its hub site.
The trust has 7kw charging points across a number of its sites, including one in Stowmarket.
Mr Abell added: "If we can get the right technology and the right infrastructure in place, that should mean we will be able to keep the vehicles on the road and maximise their up time."
Telematics on the two cars and van will mean the charging level can be remotely viewed by control room staff who receive emergency call and deploy emergency workers to attend.
Introducing electric vehicles is part of the NHS's pledge to achieve net zero carbon by 2045.
The EEAST covers Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.
The service currently has a fleet of around 70 cars and almost 500 ambulances, but will be waiting for technological advancements before trialling electric ambulances.